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JACKSON: Hi, everyone, welcome to Episode One of Flavin Features. I'm Jackson Gerber talking with Lydia Fruge about real estate. Lydia, how long have you been in real estate?


LYDIA: Hey, Jackson. My name is Lydia Fruge and I have been in real estate since April of this past year [2021]. I got my license last year [2020].


JACKSON: And what do you do for Flavin?


LYDIA: I am a licensed real estate agent. I've had the opportunity to work with some buyers and some sellers, and then also kind of get my feet wet in the commercial market as well. 


JACKSON: So you do a lot of the marketing [for your properties], right? 


LYDIA: [Yes] So as an agent, a lot of the marketing is on us. That's one of the reasons that our clients choose to use a real estate agent. [They choose an agent] Because of all the marketing resources that we have through our brokerage, through Flavin for me, and also all the tools that I as an agent may implement to try to get their listing out in front of as many eyes as possible. 


JACKSON: So when you market a home, what are some tools and strategies that you think are most effective, based on what you have seen that works well?


LYDIA: So before I became a real estate agent, when I had the inkling of wanting to be in that role, I started studying the market a little bit. I looked at what agents were doing in markets outside of where I am based in Southwest Louisiana. I would look at some [listings] that were in California, where you have these really high dollar listings and a larger luxury market. I looked at listings in Baton Rouge, in Houston, and even a little bit in Atlanta. And so I looked at what agents were doing [with their marketing] and found that high quality photography and videography for the appropriate listings can be a great [tool]. I also watched how [the other agents] were using social media to boost the impact of their listings.


JACKSON: You said you use social media. What social media Do you find that you get the most clients from?


LYDIA:As far as referrals, probably equal parts Facebook and Instagram. And I can go into a little bit about how those platforms are different.


JACKSON:Do you use anything else besides Facebook and Instagram?


LYDIA: Primarily just those two. I will probably do some YouTube in the not-too-distant future as an educational resource for first-time homebuyers or people who may be looking to sell. And I find that Facebook is great because you have groups that are set up for subjects like “Southwest Louisiana homes for sale,” for example, where you can share it. You [already] know this group of people who are actively looking for homes or other agents who have a listing that's active. And also word of mouth [on Facebook]. People can share [a listing] so easily on Facebook or tag people that they know who are looking for [a property]. That's why I think that platform is so great. Also the ability to push advertising dollars and boost your posts [on Facebook]. 


The other platform I really like is Instagram. On Instagram I find that, as a realtor, from a branding and professional standpoint, I can interact with people more easily [in a professional context]. And, I can show what the day-to-day looks like for a realtor and [do things such as] highlight features of a house as I walk through. It gives a little bit more diversity in terms of content. I really enjoy Instagram as well.


JACKSON: How many times do you think you post about houses and real estate on Instagram?


LYDIA: I try to be consistent. As far as posting every day to your feed, I feel like you need to post with a purpose and not just post because you feel like you have to. I find [posting] every day is probably too frequent for me right now, especially on Instagram. If I'm going to do tips or something, I don't want to bombard people every day with that. I try to change up some of the things that I share and post at least every other day. I try to share things in stories that may just be temporary. 


I think consistency [in posting frequency] is the most important thing. If you're posting every single day for a whole month and then suddenly stop and don't post for two weeks, people notice. 


JACKSON: So when marketing homes, what do you find is your biggest challenge?


LYDIA: So the biggest challenge [is appealing to a listing’s specific market]. There are certain homes that probably appeal to a wider array of buyers. For example, you have homes that fit a starter-home description, and then there are other homes at higher price points that need to be marketed to buyers with larger budgets. [That] out-prices certain prospects in the market, because it's not within their budget. So I think the challenge with advertising homes is being able to stay within the box of your Fair Housing guidelines, while also trying to effectively market toward your ideal client for that property. I think the biggest marketing impact is when you highlight the things that would make that home most appealing to its niche audience. It's [finding] the unique features of that home that are going to fit those more unique buyers and their needs.


JACKSON: I understand. So do you think the hurricane that just hit Lake Charles changed the market for homes?


LYDIA: I’m going to go back in time for a minute and also reveal my age. When Hurricane Rita came through [in 2005], I was in middle school. I remember my parents dealing with insurance and us not living at home for a while because there was no electricity, boil [water] advisories, all that was not ideal for safe living. So we were displaced for a little bit. I remember how different everything looked. Friends were having to rebuild their houses and get new furniture because trees had landed in their rooms. This round, I think it was definitely worse of an impact, so I think it's going to be a longer recovery period. 


[The hurricane damage] has presented opportunities for homeowners or property owners who are looking to sell and whose homes have been repaired or only need very minor repairs. We've also seen it present challenges on the other side for people who are still trying to get reimbursed by their insurance company to start repairs or waiting on contractors or laborers. The things that could have taken just a matter of a few days or a week to repair can take longer [because of widespread damage]. 


So I would say [the Southwest Louisiana housing market] is a mixed bag for sure. Some have been able to maximize on their home property values, because of the limited inventory on the market. But for others, it's left them stagnant, or with very few options as far as selling because there's only a few certain buyers who will buy property that is “as is” with damage or heavy renovation needs. 


JACKSON: Do you have different marketing strategies for different homes?


LYDIA: So I definitely try to maximize on certain features, especially when you're getting into your higher-priced homes and your luxury homes. A lot of the details and customizations that are put into those homes are better captured by video versus just photography. But, it's a case-by-case basis. Sometimes a video walkthrough or using a professional videographer can really elevate the impact of a listing and help set it apart by maximizing certain features. But then some agents are comfortable and just shooting iPhone pictures [for certain listings].


There are some great apps out there for editing, but unless you've practiced editing photos and have a certain professional level of expertise, then I think it's a disadvantage to clients to not hire a professional photographer to take pictures. Regardless of the price point on a property [a professional photographer] puts [the listing] in its best light and helps to highlight everything that that property has to offer.


JACKSON: How do you find out what your client wants in a home? What appeals to them in a potential listing?


LYDIA: Sometimes people don't know exactly what they want until they've seen a few properties. And sometimes you have people who know what they want and don’t want to compromise. And it may take them a little bit longer to find something that meets the criteria that they're looking for. But others, it's you know, they see a few homes, and they decide what they like and dislike easily. Some things you don't know until you've walked into a space and get an idea for it.


A lot of [finding out what your clients want] is just good communication and making sure you're understanding your client's needs, but also knowing what their “wants” are too. Picking up on their feedback when you are showing and those little social cues is really important to  understanding what they’re looking for. Even though [the cues] are subtle, they can go a long way in helping to narrow down and find the perfect property.


JACKSON: What are some certain things you do for clients before or during showings?

 

LYDIA: So if possible I always try to arrive before the client. And, when scheduling multiple showings for one client, I send out a detailed schedule with showing times and addresses on it so it’s easy for them to navigate. And if I see that the property disclosure has some additional comments, then I always make sure to point that out when I'm there or send it to them before the showing. Those property details are something that should be included with every residential listing, where it details the known previous damages, like flooding, or defects and how they were fixed. If they are interested, then definitely make sure they are aware of those details. The sooner they know, the better, in case there's something on there that is automatically a deal breaker for them. I always make sure it’s signed before they even review the contract. I also read through all the agents' notes. Personally,  I'll even research the clerk of court to see what the property may have sold at and look at the GIS to get the aerial shot of the property. 


JACKSON: What’s the GIS?


LYDIA: The GIS is a mapping system. The police and the tax assessor's office share it. It's a mapping system that shows a satellite view of a property. It’s not 100% accurate, but it gives you a good idea. For example, if you can't see the backyard from the listing photos then I can use the GIS and see a general idea of the backyard and where it is in context to the house. I like to check the GIS for different reasons. 


Also, before I show a property, I like to see what the taxes were and verify property details. Part of the reason why I do this is due diligence, but it also helps me to have more knowledge and be more prepared if they want to make an offer because I have an idea of how much flexibility there is in negotiation based on previous records.


JACKSON:Is there a certain time of the year that you feel is the best time to buy or sell a home? Is there any month of the year that like buying and selling homes is perfect?


LYDIA: In general, the market tends to have more activity in the spring and leading into the summer months. But, for example, last year after the hurricane season there were still a lot of sales at the end of the year, so you can have some seasonal trends.


I think part of the reason for the uptick [in market activity] during summer is that it's a lot more convenient for people with kids to be able to move in the summer. They have some more flexibility than in other months or they can take vacation time off.


Sometimes the market slows down in the summer though. [Summer] holiday times are already busy for a lot of people with so much traveling that sometimes the market will slow down because people are busy. 


There’s not necessarily a good time or a bad time in the year [to buy or sell a home]. The process is relative to your goals. For example, what are you looking to find? Or, if you're selling then what's your next step? You have to judge the market based on what your specific goals and needs are and then make a marketing plan from there. 


JACKSON: So why do you like working at Flavin? 


LYDIA: Before I got my license, I knew Melissa [Hamilton] and she had the opportunity to meet Matt Bowman and Brady [Flavin], so I knew they were great leaders. Then, when I was actively pursuing my real estate career, Matt and Brady were some of the ones that I reached out to. In my previous work, I had a lot of mentorship and a strong sense of community, and Flavin had those same qualities. Flavin also has a good vision for the future and where they want to go. They see the importance of marketing and allowing some flexibility in that for their agents. The addition of Erin to the team has been great, too. I love working with her. Overall, it has a great family feel, but is still very business-minded and business-oriented with a ton of knowledge and resources. 


JACKSON: Yeah, totally. Well, I think that's about it. Thank you so much. 


LYDIA: Thanks, Jackson. It was a pleasure. 


JACKSON: Thank you.

 


 

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